A story of resilience

- Rajita Dhungana, Kathmandu
A story of resilience

Sep 17, 2012-

She is 75 years old and lives by herself in Birgha, a remote village in Syangja. She rears cattle and farms seasonal crops, taking care of her daily chores as any other woman in rural Nepal would. However, while this septuagenarian’s lifestyle may seem ordinary, her story most definitely isn’t. Deurupa Pandey, around whose life the new 15-minute documentary Looking the Un-eyed Way has been shot, is visually impaired. She has been living alone and taking care of her home and herself for the past four decades; ever since her children went away and her husband died.

The documentary, made by Ankit Adhikari, Kumar Paudel and Pradeep Bashyal—three young Kathmandu-based individuals with interests in story-telling and photography—follows the life of this remarkably resilient woman, and attempts to capture the strength of her spirit. The film, which was shot over a period of five days, is an emotional account of her life; the difficulties this lone woman has to face every day to carry on.

Although Deurupa’s life story is not exactly a happy one, the filmmakers have presented her daily struggles as an example of hope and resilience. She lost her eyesight at the age of nine; probably the result of a wrongly administered measles vaccine, but she is not the least bit pessimistic about life. In fact, the manner in which she approaches life—without the slightest hint of self-pity—is admirable, and the film-makers have managed to capture this essence in their story.

 “Darkness, now, means nothing to me. I can see from within,” says Deurupa at one point in the film; and it is easy to see why the filmmakers chose to treat her story as such—an inspiration to those who are easily disheartened or dismayed. The documentary shows her waking up at the crack of dawn, and travelling a distance of 15 minutes to fetch water. The path she has to walk on to get to the communal tap is not exactly a smooth one, but it is one she has walked on forever. And Deurupa knows it very well by now.

“She is very strong. We hardly hear of her falling sick. The best thing about her is that she never sits idle. She always engages herself in one thing or the other,” say her neighbours as they speak of Deurupa with admiration. The villagers are no strangers to the tale of the old lady’s life. She was married off to a 59 year old widower at the age of 15 and was only 40 years old when he died. Of her two daughters, one died at an early age while the other got married and settled down in a village that lies a considerable distance away from Birgha. Her four sons are all settled elsewhere, and she has barely any visitors.

This effectual abandonment has, however, not dampened Deurupa’s spirit. “I don’t hold any grudges. My sons have all found their fortunes, and gone their own ways,” she says. “But I still feel a pinch at my heart whenever I think of them.”

Looking the Un-eyed Way was screened at the Sarwanam theatre on Monday

Published: 18-09-2012 08:57

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